Financial aid to Austinites

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Delia Garza
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Delia Garza » Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:12 pm

Colleagues,

I'm heartened by all the hard work you all and City staff have already put in on our COVID-19 response, but we know there is a lot more work ahead.

As we discussed in our meeting last Thursday, we need to consider direct financial assistance to our residents. Now that the $2 trillion federal stimulus package has been signed into law, we know what kind of federal assistance our residents will get. I'd like to continue that discussion here locally, especially for our residents who get by paycheck-to-paycheck in the best of times and/or who may not qualify for federal stimulus because of employment status. These families are dependent on industries that may not be able to operate and they need help right now, so this discussion is urgent. I realize it is going to take much more than government aid to assist many in need and I'm grateful to see so many in our community and non-profit sector stepping up to raise funds. I've also been incredibly grateful to see families stating that they will continue to pay those who have provided help for their families, while not asking them to provide that help right now.

This week we will work with staff to understand their recommendations and develop language to possibly include in a revised version of Item 33 on our April 9th agenda. I know that there may be other discussions happening right now on this, so I wanted to daylight my intention here so we can work on this together as a Council and bring equitable relief to our constituents.


Please stay safe and healthy,
Delia
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Ann Kitchen » Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:38 pm

Mayor Pro Tem

Thank you for sharing this information and thank you for pursuing options for the city to provide direct financial assistance.

As you mentioned, some residents may not be able to qualify for the federal stimulus because they aren't employees - they may be independent contractors or have solo or micro businesses who now suddenly have no source of income as their work avenues have dried up. I know we can all think of examples, but among them are artists. musicians, ride share drivers, and many others.

As you work towards solutions, I look forward to seeing them here and will contribute any thoughts or idea I come across that may be relevant.

One thought - you may want to broaden the posting language for item #33 which on first read seems to apply only to customers of financial institutions?

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Delia Garza
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Delia Garza » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:32 am

Thank you for the response. We have decided to create a separate resolution for the financial aid programmatic direction/policy. I hope to post a draft of that by the end of today. I believe we are capped at co-sponsors already but will post all confirmed co-sponsors along w draft.

There are a lot of questions that we’ll need to work through as we develop this for our April 9th agenda. I’d like to ask City staff to brief us at that Council meeting about budget options for our COVID-19 response, including an overview of the funding coming from the state and/or federal governments and what programs those funds will be available for.

Thank you and please stay healthy and safe,

Delia
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Greg Casar
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Greg Casar » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:32 pm

All:

Mayor Pro Tem Garza and I, along with several of you, will be posting 1) a resolution related to the above and 2) a budget amendment to create the Relief In a State of Emergency (RISE) fund, which will allow these programs to be funded immediately. We'll get you copies as soon as we can.

-Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Leslie Pool
Posts: 171
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Leslie Pool » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:01 am

Colleagues, the FFCRA provides some expanded support for employees under FMLA, but that expanded support still falls short of ensuring 100% of an employee’s salary be paid if/when the employee has to stay home due to Covid-related reasons. AFSCME is advocating for full pay for those who need to take expanded FMLA leave for reasons related to COVID-19, and I believe we may have a way to make that happen.

CM Tovo has a resolution relating to the expanded FMLA and emergency paid sick leave coverage on our April 9 agenda that affirms and supports the City Manager’s decision to apply emergency paid sick leave and the expanded FMLA policy retroactively to March 15, 2020; the IFC also directs the City Manager to modify the expanded Family Medical Leave Act policy to ensure that the City will pay an eligible employee 100% of their regular pay rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled.

Taken together, the Relief in a State of Emergency financial aid IFC and the FMLA expanded coverage IFC appear to share the goal to ensure financial support for those in need.

I am working on an amendment to the RISE IFC that would include an appropriation for financial aid to our employees to ensure they are paid 100% of their regular pay rate. Alternatively, we could on Thursday amend both IFCs so that they intersect with the appropriation of funds for eligible city employees from the reserves monies targeted by the RISE IFC.

thanks to all … hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Leslie
Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7

Paige Ellis
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:37 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Paige Ellis » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:43 am

Thank you, Mayor Pro Tem, for suggesting a budget briefing at the April 9 Council meeting. I also would value an overview from staff on the local, state, and federal funding available to support our community through this crisis, both in terms of direct financial aid to individuals and small businesses as well as funding that could support City operations and programs.

Also, it would be helpful for us to know to the extent possible at this time, COVID's likely economic impact on our sales tax revenue and hotel occupancy tax revenue, and steps the City Manager is already taking to prepare us for this impact or what actions may require further direction from Council, such as a budget amendment.

I would like to have a comprehensive understanding of the City’s commitments and needs while considering funding & allocation decisions as a response to COVID. I appreciate MPT Garza and CM Casar’s work on this resolution and CM Kitchen and Pool’s added input.

Thanks,
Paige Ellis
Paige Ellis
Council Member, District 8

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Ann Kitchen » Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:37 pm

Colleagues

Thank you to everyone's comments - I appreciate everyone's thoughts and ideas and am heartened to see concrete actions that we can take on April 9th to support staff efforts and provide direct assistance and support for those hard hit by COVID-19, including city staff. I am also looking forward to the budget briefing.

I wanted to let everyone know that I am working on Amendments to Resolution #81 and #77 to address a specific need for additional services for homeless individuals. I have asked the City Manager to confirm whether he can proceed without Council direction - but am preparing an amendment in anticipation of the need for such direction.

I know we all understand that our homeless neighbors are among the most vulnerable in our community, and at high risk of exposure. While our staff is working hard on sheltering locations - we also need to provide for hygiene services.

The Other Ones Foundation (TOOF) has an existing contract with the city to provide Mobile Hygiene Clinics - which are showers, bathrooms and related services. They provide these services through the program the city has funded which offers employment for homeless individuals.

My amendment will focus on expanding this social service contract, allowing these services to scale to meet the need. Currently there is only one MHC, which means TOOF has to move the MHC every day to different locations around the city. For a little more than $200,000 we can expand those services to scale (funding 6 additional units over a 12 month period) and help homeless individuals stay safe with proper hygiene and address basic human needs.

I will post these amendments by Monday and will provide backup with more information about the efficiency and reach of these services.

My reading is that this type of service may already be covered by the language of #77 and #81. However, I am offering this small amendment - so as not to take away from the co-sponsors intent for these resolutions.

Best Regards
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Ann Kitchen » Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:51 pm

All

I wanted to let you know that we have posted an amendment, with back-up supporting information, to Item 81 which states the following:

Adding to the list of programs listed as "Direct Relief Services" in the "Funding Distribution" section of the first Be It Resolved clause (which currently begins at line 80, page 5) the following type of program:

Deliver essential hygiene (including showers, hand washing and restrooms) and provision services to unsheltered persons including via mobile trailers, allowing physical distancing and promoting "stay in place"

As I mentioned in my previous post, this will provide for much needed services to our homeless neighbors who are among our most vulnerable populations through the city's existing social service contract.

Thank you MPT Garza and your co-sponsors for consideration of this amendment. I am hoping we can add into a revised resolution for Thursday.

Best
Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Delia Garza
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Delia Garza » Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:08 pm

Thanks to everyone for the discussion yesterday. I intend to add seniors among the populations we want to target with the aid in this resolution, and I will be adding language to include the delivery of essential hygiene as a direct relief service. Thank you CMs Alter and Kitchen for those suggested additions.

All my best,

Delia
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Alison Alter
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:52 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Alison Alter » Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:52 pm

Thank you MPT Garza for your work advancing this resolution and for adding my suggestion on seniors.

Please find below additional direction and proposed amendments for Item #81. The direction is related to identifying and assisting with the capacity building of our service providers. My two amendments seek to address the specific needs of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have a high probability of infection. I hope they will be considered friendly.

We have just shared the language with legal for review.

Regards,
Alison Alter

Item 81 ALTER - direction

The City Manager is directed to assess whether providers receiving these funds may need technical assistance to alter or pivot their service models in order to swiftly disburse dollars directly to residents or to scale their current operations. The City Manager is further directed to identify available city funds or other resources that may be used to offer such capacity building assistance.

Item 81 ALTER - amendments

In the Service Provider section, on page 8, after line 142, add the following language:

The City Manager is authorized to negotiate and execute emergency contracts or contract amendments (as appropriate) with one or more providers to work with those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have a high probability of infection (based on contact tracing), so that those individuals receive assistance tailored to their needs and are better able to comply with containment measures.

In the Eligibility section, on page 7, after line 126, add the following language:
Prioritize individuals eligible for RISE funds, who have also tested positive for COVID-19 or have a high probability of infection based on contact tracing.
Council Member, District 10

Delia Garza
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Delia Garza » Thu Apr 09, 2020 10:59 am

Updated Resolution can be found here:
http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 105841.pdf
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:04 pm

Re: Financial aid to Austinites

Post by Ann Kitchen » Thu Apr 09, 2020 1:31 pm

Thank you MPT Garza for including essential hygiene in this resolution.

I would like to suggest the following amendment in order to fully capture the intent of my amendment and avoid misunderstanding about application for homeless individuals. See my addition in " ":

"Other direct relief services provided by community-based organizations to assist individuals and families in meeting basic needs and alleviating hardships, including essential hygiene "to include mobile showers, hand washing, restrooms, and provision services to unsheltered persons."

Thank you

Ann Kitchen
City Council D5
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

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